Rạn Biển Seafood Restaurant in HCM City had no customers on Sunday night. The restaurant is offering free delivery to attract customers. Its waiters use their own vehicles to deliver food. They also have been working with food delivery applications such as Now, Grab and Baemin to increase their sales. VNS Photo Anh Thư
HCM CITY Because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, many restaurants in HCM City are struggling and offering free delivery services to attract customers who are eating at home instead of going out.
“We offer free delivery to attract customers and cut our losses,” said Trần Hữu Trung, manager of the seafood restaurant Rạn Biển on Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa Street in Phú Nhuận District.
The restaurant used to attract an average of 500 customers daily at the weekend. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the number has averaged 80 to 90.
“Last Sunday night, we had no customers. We have seen our revenue fall by 70 per cent,” he said.
Trung’s restaurant began its free delivery two weeks ago and hopes it will help them survive.
“Our staff of waiters use their vehicles to deliver food. Our popular dishes are grilled seafood and steamed fishes,” said Trung, adding that his restaurant has also worked with food delivery applications such as Now, Grab and Baemin to increase their sales.
Rạn Biển is not the only luxury restaurant affected by the virus and offering free delivery.
Ms Ba, the owner of a stall offering sweet soups in Bến Thành Market, one of the city’s favourite tourist sites, had to let half of her staff go as she couldn’t afford to pay them.
“My sales fell by 60 per cent. If the situation does not change, I will close my shop,” said Ba, who used to serve more than 120 customers daily.
Ba offers free delivery for customers in districts 1,3, 4 and Phú Nhuận and charges VNĐ25,000 (US$1.1) per order in other districts.
Small restaurants offering Vietnamese dishes are working to keep their business alive.
These shops offer traditional dishes such as bún (rice vermicelli with pork), phở (noodle with beef and chicken), porridge and cơm tấm (broken rice with eggs and grilled pork ribs) at reasonable prices, ranging from VNĐ30,000 ($1.3) to VNĐ50,000 ($2) a dish.
“We have attracted very few customers daily in the last three weeks. But, we have received a number of online orders from Now, Grab and Baemin,” said Nguyễn Thị Thanh, chef of a bún bò restaurant called Chú Há on Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3.
Thanh's shop offers bún bò ( rice vermicelli with beef cooked in Huế style) at VNĐ60,000 a bowl.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, her shop attracted 150 customers daily.
“I have received 80 online orders daily since people have avoided eating out. It’s not bad this time,” said Thanh, who has seen many luxury restaurants on Võ Văn Tần Street struggling.
Nguyễn Thành Cang, a driver for Grab, said: “I have 15 orders for breakfast daily and 12 orders for dinner.”
“I think I’m luckier than many others, who have lost their job or closed their business because of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Cang, adding that he hopes the Government and people work closely together to win the virus battle. VNS